The designed environment can form or reframe awareness of a topic or idea in a very limited amount of time.
Unlike most forms of media which we can selectively turn on or off, physical space is a medium that we tune into 100% of the time. It’s innate – we’re hardwired to scan our environment for information because it helps us survive. Our surroundings are often mundane, but when we encounter something truly amazing, it triggers emotions ranging from fascination, to curiosity, and even awe. According to psychologists, two things must occur in a person’s mind to experience awe; one, a perception of vastness, and two, a need for accommodation—that is, an opening of the mind to find a place inside where the new experience will fit. Awe-inspiring physical spaces—both natural and designed—open people’s minds to new ideas and new possibilities, helping them to reframe their preconceptions and form lasting memories.
Keltner, D. & Haidt, J. (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 17(2), 297-314.
April Zodiac Bonus
In celebration of Earth Day and in anticipation of the new Earth Science exhibit RGI will be installing at NASA Goddard Visitor Center next month, check out this video about the Overview Effect and the life-changing awe of seeing Earth from space.